Preview

Blood Bowl Preview (PC)

Strategy Informer had the opportunity to go up to Nottingham to preview the latest game to be developed from Games Workshop’s repertoire: Blood Bowl. A visualisation of a parody, Blood Bowl is best described as Madden meets Warcraft as Orcs, Humans, Goblins and Elves fight it out in an NFL style brawl – with hilarious results.

Unlike previous games based off Games Workshop IP’s, Blood Bowl is a direct translation of the table-top game into a digital environment, rules, dice rolls and all – but don’t be put off by the mechanics behind the game. In order to dampen down the monotony that sometimes accompanies all table top games: remembering rules, rolling dice, calculating damage etc... Cyanide (the developer) have constructed a game that hides all that beneath the 99% of all the dice rolls, which are done for you, as well as the calculations and the rules are automatic. The only time you need confront the mechanics of the game is when you have a choice, and those are usually simple and easy to interact with.


You wouldn’t want to meet him on a dark night, let alone on a football pitch...
Errr... ref?

The game itself is split into two main modes: Blitz and Classic. Classic is the ‘simple’ version, the simple translations from table-top to desktop, and is pretty much a visualised version of the original game. Blitz is the more interesting version, and carries with it a considerable degree of customizability. Even though the game strictly adheres to the current rule set (Living Rulebook 5.0) The Blitz mode allows you to mess around with some of the options slightly, giving you a healthy degree of control over your games, as well as the option to play matches in real-time.

The real-time option is the game’s ‘secret weapon’. A throw back to one of Cyanide’s earlier titles, Chaos League, the developers adapted the rules and the game so that you could play the game in real time. Whilst it’s not on the same scale as Madden or any other sports game where you can take part, it does have an even pace, and in some respects it is easier then the turn-based mode. This is probably what will make the game more appealing to the main stream audience, as well as given hard core fans of the table top game something else to do.

Blood Bowl is split into the standard single player and multi-player modes. Single-player allows the player to enter career mode, set up a competition to play through, or to simply play a random match. The career mode is pretty extensive, and rumour has it that it never ends – you just keep on playing and gaining experience and money etc... I suppose that could get boring after a while, it depends how much replay ability the game has in the later stages. Still, with 8 different races, each with their own unique strengths and abilities, there’s plenty of incentive to experiment and go through the main campaign a few times.


Just like in the real thing, there are different types of ‘units’ to employ on the pitch.
Yes. Those are wood elf cheerleaders in mini skirts...

The multi-player section is another bit that has had a lot of effort put into it. If you thought the ‘Blitz’ mode had a lot of customization, wait until you see what they’ve done here. Not only do you have all of the usual customization options, but you can also set up your own leagues, and rules within those leagues, you can create custom teams with custom stats by exporting/importing data... the potential is nearly limitless, and to make sure some of the more ‘sillier’ options don’t ruin the dynamic online leader boards, any team that participates in a game that has had severe modifications to the team is locked for that particular match. Basically all this means is that the changes you make don’t affect the normal online mode. It’s almost like you’re making a separate team.

In terms of platforms, Blood Bowl is coming to PC, DS and PSP in June, with the 360 getting its release sometime in September. As Cyanide’s Antoine Villepeux mentioned in the interview, should the game be a success, you could probably expect a PS3 version as well. From the looks of things, the console version is simply going to be a port of the PC version, minus certain features (mainly from the online mode) that wouldn’t fit on the console. As PC-Console ports go however, it’s looking pretty slick. Controls have been adapted quite well, the graphics are worthy of the console, and the gameplay hasn’t been diminished too much. Obviously, since this is part strategy, there will be that usual ‘slowness’ when using the controller instead of a mouse, but you can get away with it in this one.


The different environments are varied, and each have their own hidden dangers.
The different races all have their own unique playing style.

There are one or two things that are bit... disappointing however. Despite being a game about a parody where you can kill people, there isn’t as much carnage as you would think. This may be a true reflection of the board game, and if it is then fair enough, but during our session only 1 person died, and that was due to a random event. Even injuries weren’t all that common. Perhaps that’s expecting too much of a game that is, at the end of the day, a sports title. You can’t exactly win the cup with half your guys in the morgue. Also, even though Cyanide goes a long way to hide the complexity of the game, you can still see it, and often you are confronted by blocks of text that, without prior knowledge, you may not understand. Still, the in-game tutorials are very helpful in that department.


After having run a closed Beta session for the past year, using a select group of people from the community, Cyanide has just recently moved to an open Beta stage. According to them it’s so far so good, and so long as an extra coat of polish (such as proof reading) is added to the game before release, then everything should be fine. Whilst at first glance Blood Bowl may not appeal directly to the average gamer, coming from such a hardcore/niche background, after around 5-6 hours of gameplay it’s clear that this game could be a surprise hit for the summer. Definitely one to watch.


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Comments

By FoolWolf (SI Elite) on Aug 27, 2009
FoolWolf
Since this will use 3 activations method DRM of SecuROM it is a no go for me at least. Too bad looked like a fun game and I really enjoyed the good old board game.